In the future, long after Hollywood has broken free of its ouroboros-like cycle of pointless and needless remakes, I feel certain that director Louis Letterier‘s 2010 remake of Clash Of The Titans will be held as the epitome of everything wrong with the trend. Loud, abrasive and charmless, this new iteration of some classic Greek myths misses everything that made the original film, which featured the last work of visual effects maestro Ray Harryhausen, a minor classic.
In the 1981 original, we had Perseus, son of the Greek god Zeus and a mortal woman, questing and slaying monsters in order to save his beloved Andromeda from being sacrificed to the terrifying Kraken. Thirty years later, we have a hero (Sam Worthington) seemingly motivated by daddy issues who apparently thinks that running hither and yon killing things is a good substitute for an anger management course.
After his adoptive parents and younger sister are killed in the crossfire between the gods and mortals in the opening salvos of what could be all out war, Perseus vows to defend the city of Argos from its appointed meeting with the monstrous Kraken. Although his half-divine parentage grants him special powers, Perseus refuses to use them. In a gross miscalculation of our attention spans on the part of the filmmakers, Perseus repeatedly tells everyone within earshot that he will meet these challenges “as a man.” Although raised as a fisherman and allegedly not drawing on his divine advantages, Perseus manages to battle his way through a host of giant scorpions, the Medusa and a host of other perils with a band of soldiers many of whom, despite having far more experience at this sort of thing, don’t make it to the final reel.
Surprisingly, what should be a story about gods and men is surprisingly short on the gods side of things. The jealousy that lord of the underworld Hades feels towards Zeus and the other gods who get to reside on the far snazzier Mount Olympus and the rivalry between them would have made a great storyline for the movie, if it had been developed more. Instead it is more plot device than plot. And outside of Zeus and Hades, the remaining pantheon is woefully underused. Apollo and Hermes get about a line each while the rest stand around like nicely-dressed props.
Sam Worthington has certainly been making a name for himself recently headlining high profile genre films like Avatar and Terminator: Salvation. Unfortunately, this is the least of these films. The part of Perseus is barely written and what is on the page leaves Worthington no option but to growl and snarl all his lines.
But the film’s main problem is that it takes itself as seriously as a film like 300 or Gladiator when there is no call for it in the material. This affects the action to the point where it becomes more of an exercise in executing something visually challenging to create rather sequences that are fun or thrilling to watch. Clash Of The Titans also becomes yet another film to make the mistake in thinking that fast, frantic editing is more exciting, when it is usually dreadfully confusing and dull. This is a pity as I greatly enjoyed Leterrier’s work on The Incredible Hulk just two summers ago.
Letterier does manage to squeeze in a nod to the original film, but not is it only cringe-inducing, it comes off as snide and condescending. Perhaps someone should have reminded them that if it weren’t for the original, no one involved would have been collecting a paycheck for this cinematic catastrophe.